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Axa to buy Hungarian retail bank Ella to expand in East Europe

Axa SA, Europe's second-largest insurer, agreed to buy the Hungarian retail bank Ella Holdings Ltd. for an undisclosed amount, seeking to add clients and expand its product offerings in eastern Europe.

The insurer reached an agreement with Ella Holdings Ltd. and its main shareholder Royalton Capital Investors for the purchase of 100% of the Hungarian retail bank, Paris-based Axa SA said today in an e-mailed statement. „The acquisition of Ella, a young and dynamic bank, will accelerate our development in the very promising Hungarian market,” Alfred Bouckaert, head of the Axa northern and eastern Europe region, said in the statement. „Retail banking services are a strategic add-on” to Axa's insurance offerings, he added. Axa CEO Henri de Castries, who last year led the takeover of Credit Suisse Group's Winterthur unit, said in February the insurer is always on the lookout for acquisitions and that it viewed new European Union members in eastern Europe as a „natural territory for expansion.” (Bloomberg)